For a while now, knitters have debated the merits of knitting flat pieces versus knitting items or parts of items in the round. There's no need for that debate here; suffice it to say that knitting in the round presents some terrific advantages, including speed (never having to purl, avoiding seam-sewing), structural advantages (e.g. socks without a seam to irritate your foot), and convenience. But some knitters can find it hard to envision exactly how to do all these magical things in the round. For those knitters and newer folks who haven't yet learned about knitting in the round, there is Teach Yourself Visually Circular Knitting.
TYVCK is a paperback, a whopping 245 pages, and full-color throughout. This is intended to be an instructional book rather than "just" a selection of patterns, and so the majority of those 245 pages are devoted to technical stuff. Let's take a chapter-by-chapter look:
Chapter 1 starts with the basics, with a good introductory section explaining what circular knitting is and the pros and cons of using this method. I especially like that each "pro" or "con" has a photograph next to it, showing you exactly what the pro or con is -- if you weren't sure what "jogs on horizontal stripes" are, and why this is a disadvantage, for example, there is a handy-dandy photograph showing you. The section continues by considering different needle options (again, lots of great technical stuff, including a discussion of needle materials, interchangeble needes, joins and tips); yarn recommendation for beginners to circular knitting; and a look at other tools the knitter might need.
Chapter 2 takes a look at different circular knitting methods: double-pointed needles, one circular needle, the "Magic Loop" method, and two circulars. The section also includes how to cast on and bind off in the round. There's even a chart in the back which compares different circular knitting methods, including tips on when to use them and for which items.
Chapter 3 is really fabulous: it anticipates common problems that arise when learning to knit in the round, showing exactly what the problems look like and how to fix them. So if you end up with the dreaded mobius cast-on, or a gap at the join, MMO shows you how to fix this (in some cases giving several alternate solutions). There's also info on joining new yarn while knitting int he round (including the dreaded "spit splice"); working charts in the round; avoiding jogs in stripes; working stranded and other color designs in the round; even how to make fake seams.
The projects begin with Chapter 4, and they are helpfully grouped by difficulty. Chapter 4 presents three "starter" projects for beginning, including an earwarmer, double-thick potholders and fingerless mitts.
Chapter 5 gets the knitter ready for beginning a more substantial project. "Planning a Project" walks the knitter through choosing the proper size, picking out yarn, selecting a stitch pattern, swatching and the ever-important gauge.
Chapter 6 picks up with some simple projects: a circular cowl, (I like that MMO gives variations so you can make a stockinette one to start, then make one in a pattern stitch once you get more comfortable with the technique); hats for kids; and hats for grown-ups.
Chapter 7, "Intermediate Projects", presents a felted tote bag, mittens sized for the whole family, and a basic sock pattern (again sized kids to adult).
Chapter 8 are the advanced projects, including a baby cardigan/hat/booties set, a child's striped pullover and an adult pullover with a center cable motif.
I didn't really expect to see a section on steeks, but darn if Chapter 9 isn't devoted to them. For the ace student, if knitting in the round isn't enough, MMO shows you the usefulness of steeks: knitting a garment in the round and then cutting a seam in it. (Usually this is used to knit a cardigan in the round, with the seam becoming the front opening, with buttonbands added.) What is brilliant about this section is that it features a "starter" steek project -- a shawl that is knit as a parallelogram and then steeked. Why bother? Well, it's a great way to practice a steek on a garment that won't take as long to knit. Do your first steek on a one-color shawl, and then when you knit a gorgeous Dale cardigan in colorwork, you'll know what you're doing when it comes time to cut into it.
I also didn't expect to see a mini-stitch dictionary in the back of the book, but there is one (with lots of photos, natch), and there's one last section that illustrates basic knitting techniques.
Example of instruction (this one showing twists in a cast-on)Summing up, then, TYVCK is a fabulous resource for knitters who would like to learn how to knit in the round, or for knitters who have a general idea how to do it but aren't proficient or would like a better understanding of the technique. I suspect that even some quite proficient in-the-round knitters would pick up a thing or two from this comprehensive resource. Best of all, I like the fact that this book (and the entire "Teach Yourself Visually" series) acknowledges the reality that different people have different learning styles. Some people like to see something illustrated in a photograph while others are better with verbal descriptions. Luckily for knitters, MMO's new book does a great job with both.
And exciting news: MMO and Wiley Books have generously provided not only a review copy for me to paw through, but a second copy for me to give away to one of you lucky readers. It is even autographed by Her Nibs, MMO herself. To win, leave a comment below by midnight July 4th. I will use a random number generator to select a comment and the commenter will receive this copy. One entry per customer, please, and make sure there's a way for me to contact you either via your Blogger profile or in the comment. (FYI: due to spammers, I have to moderate comments, so don't worry if it doesn't appear immediately.)
And continue with the MMO Blog Tour tomorrow, July 2, chez Sunset Cat, and gaze adoringly at Stefanni and her Tonkinese cats.